Neutralizing Big Oil’s climate-bill attack, with investment in manufacturing
The oil lobby’s latest astroturf concoction is “Energy Citizens.” Its website practically looks like it’s a group pushing clean green jobs, with its green-tinted USA map and call to “support American jobs and affordable energy.” Its attempt at a grassroots rally was rightly deemed nothing more than a “company picnic,” just another ruse to kill the clean energy and climate protection bill which passed the House and should be taken up by the Senate later in the year.
As we’ve seen in the health care debate, the conservative movement and their corporate backers still have the ability to spread lies and warp debate. If the climate bill is tagged as a job-killer, that will be a bill-killer.
While the entire enterprise of averting a climate crisis by capping carbon emissions is sure to launch a vibrant green jobs industry, we must take extra steps to ensure that the American component of any global warming strategy creates good-paying American green jobs, not sends even more jobs away to other countries. This is our best chance to revitalize America’s manufacturing base, and we’ll likely lose political support to address the climate crisis if we don’t also seize this economic opportunity.
The House bill does seize the opportunity, although it did at the very end of the legislative process, when language from Sen. Sherrod Brown’s “IMPACT” legislation was inserted with little fanfare into the final climate bill. The provision provides critical investment: $30 billion to states, in a loan program, to allow factories to retool for the green economy and invest in energy efficiencies.
It’s great that it’s there, but it’s not so great that it wasn’t part of the bill to begin with, because we don’t have the assurance it will stay in the bill once the Senate is finished.
On a recent conference call led by Apollo Alliance to support the IMPACT provisions (check out the presentation here), I asked who is fighting Sen. Brown on this. The answer: nobody.
Everyone generally supports it. There’s no grand fight about it drawing media attention.
It’s just treated as an afterthought. So without a strong push, the language could be foolishly left off the table.
The investment in manufacturing shouldn’t just be in there when the Senate introduces its version of the climate bill. It should be front and center to strongly counter the false claims from Big Oil’s front groups like Energy Citizens.
Just this week in Ohio, the Blue-Green Alliance and Repower America kicked off a Made In America Tour to support the House climate bill. The Akron Beacon Journal reported on it, noting what factory retooling for clean energy means for the local economy:
Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. was held up as an example of how green conversion can save and create jobs. FirstEnergy intends to repower one of its coal-burning plants with briquettes of wood chips, cornstalks, switch grass and grains.
The plan to rely on renewable energy at the R.E. Burger Power Plant in Belmont County, which was scheduled to close, will cost $200 million, power 190,000 homes, save more than 100 jobs and create a couple of hundred jobs during the conversion process.
We need more of those stories to be told. We need potential opportunities to be cited, if we are to energize support in swing states with Senators who have not committed to supporting the bill.
Originally posted at OurFuture.org